Perry World House Perry World House Announces Visitors for 2023-2024

September 7, 2023
By Perry World House

Perry World House (PWH) – the University of Pennsylvania’s hub for global affairs – is proud to announce its incoming visitors for 2023-2024. Throughout the academic year, Penn students, staff, and faculty will have the chance to connect with this cohort of outstanding experts, learning how they are working to solve some of the most urgent challenges facing the world today. Representing an array of countries and institutions, and often working at the highest levels of national and global governance, Perry World House visitors inspire new approaches to research and foster global policy engagement on campus. 

“This year’s class of visitors bring a wealth of global policy knowledge to Penn,” said Amy Gadsden, associate vice provost for global initiatives and PWH interim executive director. “With profound insight into some of the most complex issues we face – such as climate change, the future of the global economy, and a return to great power competition – they will enrich the University’s research on these challenges and deepen students’ understanding of our world.” 

Since 2016, Perry World House’s Visitors Program has brought internationally renowned global policy leaders, scholars, and practitioners to Philadelphia to engage with the Penn community and the public. As part of their time on campus, visitors give input to academic research, guest lecture in classes, and meet with Penn students to explore foreign policy issues in depth and discuss careers on the world stage. They brief faculty on critical issues, from the war in Ukraine to the landscape of climate vulnerability, while also taking part in public programming that allows Perry World House to reach stakeholders worldwide. 

Visiting Fellows and Scholars

Wolfgang Blau is the managing partner of the Brunswick Group’s global climate hub and an expert in climate communications. He is the co-founder of the Oxford Climate Journalism Network at Oxford University, which trains journalists from more than 400 international news organizations each year, and an advisor to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

Tobias Bunde is director of research and policy at the Munich Security Conference and a member of the Munich Security Conference Foundation’s executive board. He is also a postdoctoral researcher at the Hertie School’s Centre for International Security. He works on German foreign and security policy, security cooperation among liberal democracies, and the international order.  

Jagan Chapagain is the chief executive officer and secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and was previously the IFRC’s chief of staff and regional director for Asia Pacific. Chapagain has decades of experience in building and leading inclusive teams and forging partnerships to address global challenges. He will be this year’s Wolk Visiting Fellow at Perry World House. 

Fatima Denton is the director of the Institute for Natural Resources in Africa at the United Nations University. With extensive experience in research and policy development, she specializes in climate change adaptation and resilience in Africa. A coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, she currently leads the Sixth Assessment Report, Working Group III. 

Melissa Flagg is the founder and president of Flagg Consulting LLC. She is also a research fellow at the Acquisition Innovation Research Center, and a senior advisor to the Center for Security and Emerging Technology at Georgetown University. Prior to this, she served as the US deputy assistant secretary of defense for research.  

Robin Michael Garcia is a political scientist and public affairs adviser. He is the president and chief executive officer of WR Advisory Group, a public affairs firm, and the founder and chairman of its opinion research subsidiary, WR Numero Research. Garcia is also an assistant professor in the political economy program at the University of Asia & the Pacific in Manila, Philippines, and was recently named an Eisenhower Global Fellow for 2023.  

In a career spanning more than twenty-five years at the United Nations, Michèle Griffin has served as a senior policy advisor and director of policy planning to successive secretaries-general. She currently directs the Common Agenda/Summit of the Future Team in the office of Secretary-General António Guterres.  

Stephen Hammer has over thirty years of experience working on climate change and sustainability issues at the global, national, and local levels. An expert on urban scale climate issues, he joined the World Bank in 2013. At the Bank, he advises senior management on global climate policy matters, has led on major global climate partnerships, and represents the Bank in international fora.  

Thilmeeza Hussain has been ambassador and permanent representative of the Maldives to the United Nations and non-resident high commissioner to Canada since 2019. Alongside these roles, she is co-chair of the Circle of Women Ambassadors to the UN and leads the preparatory committee for the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States. 

Michael Kenwick is an assistant professor of political science at Rutgers University. He studies international security with an emphasis on civil-military relations and international border politics. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and has appeared in journals including the American Journal of Political Science and International Organization. This year, he will be the Lightning Scholar at Perry World House. 

A veteran diplomat, Kishore Mahbubani is currently a distinguished fellow at the Asia Research Institute, part of the National University of Singapore (NUS). Having dedicated five decades of his life to public service, he is a former president of the United Nations Security Council and the founding dean of NUS’ Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He will be this year’s Schlager Visiting Fellow at Perry World House. 

Evan Mawarire is a Zimbabwean clergyman who founded the #ThisFlag citizens’ movement to challenge corruption, injustice, and poverty in Zimbabwe. For his work, Mawarire was imprisoned, tortured, and charged with treason, facing eighty years in prison. Currently, he is the director of education at the Renew Democracy Initiative, an organization focused on defending democracy in America and the world. 

With nearly twenty-five years’ experience within and outside the United Nations, Shipra Narang Suri leads UN-Habitat’s Urban Practices Branch, the hub for its normative work and the home of its portfolio of global programs spread across fifty countries. She is also the senior advisor within UN-Habitat for Sustainable Development Goals localization, working with local governments and their networks.  

Youssef Nassef is the director of the Adaptation Division at the UNFCCC. He has over thirty-four years of experience in diplomacy and international environmental policy, and is a seconded ambassador from the Egyptian Foreign Service. While assuming progressively higher levels of leadership at the UNFCCC, he led UNFCCC support for all workstreams on adaptation and loss and damage. 

Sheela Patel is the director of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers, a non-governmental organization that works in alliance with the National Slum Dwellers Federation and Mahila Milan, and is active in several cities across India. She is a founder of Slum Dwellers International, a transnational social movement of the urban poor in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.  

Avinash Persaud's career spans finance, public policy, and academia. He is an emeritus professor at Gresham College and an advisor to governments and international institutions on financial policy. Persaud was previously a senior executive at several major banks, including JP Morgan and the Union Bank of Switzerland.   

Tim Rieser served as senior foreign policy advisor to former US Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont from 1995 to 2023, handling a wide range of issues. During his time working for Senator Leahy, he also became a professional staff member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Democratic clerk of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. 

Clay Risen, a reporter for the New York Times, is the author of several books on US history, including, most recently, The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders and the Dawn of the American Century, a finalist for the Gilder-Lehrman Prize in Military History. Previously at the Times, he worked as a senior politics editor and deputy Opinion editor. 

Frederik Rosén is the director of the Nordic Center for Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflict in Copenhagen, Denmark. For more than a decade, he has been a key advisor to governments and international organizations on cultural property protection in relation to armed conflicts. His research interests include cultural heritage, crisis and disaster management, and the ethics of war. 

Trudy Rubin is the Worldview columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and a member of the Inquirer’s editorial board. Before coming to the Inquirer, she was Middle East correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, covering Israel and the Arab world. Prior to that, she was a staff writer on American politics for the Economist. In 2001 and 2017, Rubin was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary.  

Tomohisa Takei joined the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force in 1979. He rose to the rank of admiral and served as the thirty-second chief of maritime staff. Currently, Takei is a special advisor to the chief executive officer of engineering company SAMPA KOGYO K.K, an advisor to the Japan Forum of Strategic Studies, and a visiting fellow at the Japan Institute for International Affairs.  

Alexander Vershbow is a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and Eurasia Center. A former career member of the US Foreign Service, he was deputy secretary general of NATO from 2012 to 2016, and US assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs from 2009 to 2012. He also served as US ambassador to NATO, Russia, and the Republic of Korea.  

Kotchakorn Voraakhom is a Thai landscape architect and chief executive officer of Landprocess, an architecture and urban design firm, and Porous City Network, a social enterprise looking to increase urban climate resilience in Southeast Asia. She received the UN Global Climate Action Award for nature-based solutions for urban adaptability. 

Amy F. Woolf is a consultant specializing in nuclear weapons and arms control policy. Her research interests include nuclear weapons policy in the US and Russia and the future of US-Russian arms control. Woolf was a specialist in nuclear weapons policy at the Congressional Research Service for over thirty years, where she provided the US Congress with expert analysis and advice on these issues.